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Has Specialized Cracked the Code? New 2FO Roost Shoe Delivers on All Counts 21

Has somebody finally created a flat pedal shoe with as much grip as the market leader?

Has Specialized Cracked the Code? New 2FO Roost Shoe Delivers on All Counts

Ever since it first appeared on a mountain bike specific shoe, Five Ten’s Stealth rubber has ruled the roost in the flat pedal world. We’ve tested countless flat pedal shoes here at Vital, and while many of them have impressed us in terms of features, comfort, and performance, they have all fallen more or less short of the gold standard when it comes to grip. So to answer the question that was already on your mind the minute you heard about this new shoe: yes, the 2FO Roost Flat is as grippy or maybe even grippier than a Five Ten. Watch the video below (or keep reading) to find out more!

 

Specialized 2FO Roost Flat Highlights

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  • SlipNot™ SuperTacky Rubber: flat pedal specific compound keeps riders glued to the pedal through the rough stuff with a secure and locked-in feel
  • Upper Material: Suede and leather create a soft and supple feel while providing protection and durability to handle the demands of the trail
  • XPEL™ hydrophobic lining provides cushioning and doesn't retain water
  • MSRP: $120 USD
  • Color: Black or Oak

Specialized is also launching a clipless version of the new 2FO Roost shoe today, we have not been able to put it to the test yet, but we've included the product highlights below FYI:

Specialized 2FO Roost Clip Highlights

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  • Lollipop™ nylon shank is paired with an EVA midsole to flex where needed while remaining stiff for pedaling.
  • Micro-perforated synthetic provides a soft and supple feel without sacrificing protection and durability.
  • XPEL™ hydrophobic lining provides cushioning and doesn't retain water.
  • Landing Strip™ cleat pocket guides the cleat into the pedal for insanely fast engagement.
  • MSRP: $130 USD
  • Color: Black or Taupe

2FO Roost Flat Initial Impressions

Specialized launched the first 2FO – short for Foot Out Flat Out of course – in 2014, and while the shoe itself was nice enough, the grip was not very impressive. In 2017, Specialized corrected its course and the 2.0 version of the 2FO was a far better product for it – it scored a very solid third place in our Flat Pedal Shoe Face Off at the time. But the Specialized team felt they could do better, and they set about designing a new shoe from the ground up.

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One of the first aspects the team considered was the overall look of the shoe. All the team riders wanted a shoe they could ride in all day but that would not look out of place at the pub or the supermarket on the way back home. It needed to deal with the elements and protect the foot, while also being fast to dry and not weighing too much (it comes in about 30 grams heavier than a Five Ten Freerider Pro, for reference). A shank for pedaling support, but enough toe flexibility for hike-a-bike sections and walking around in general. Suede and leather were chosen for the uppers to provide a soft and supple feel yet offer enough protection to deal with crashes and general wear and tear.

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Since we’re talking about Specialized here, a number of their “Body Geometry” concepts also found their way onto the Roost. Arch support, a “Metatarsal Button” to help splay out your toes in the shoe, and a “Varus Wedge” to help align your legs and knees correctly on the bike.

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There is no stitching around the toe cap which Specialized says actually weakens the material in that area – time will tell how the glue will hold up here. There’s an XPEL hydrophobic liner to provide cushioning and avoid retaining water. Overall the shoe has a bit of the traditional skate shoe vibe to it, but it also looks discrete enough to wear around town.

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Where is the women’s version you ask? After much research into the concept, Specialized has found more variation related to size and foot type than related to gender alone – and so they are moving “beyond the gender” with this new shoe. If it’s your size, it should fit you!

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On The Trail

When it came time to address the rubber question, Specialized didn’t hold back. They sent their team around the world looking for a supplier who could cook up the recipe they knew they wanted, and they certainly struck gold. They found that grip is a function of many different factors, and that softer is not always better – especially when it comes to longevity. They focused instead on the deformation and rebound characteristics of the rubber, finding that a slow rebound rate which causes the rubber to take a long time to return to its original shape will allow the pedal pins to keep their grip even in situations where there is less pressure on the pedal.

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The result is nothing short of amazing. We were blown away by the level of grip offered by this new shoe, right from the very first minutes of riding. The sole initially feels a bit stiff and hard compared to a Five Ten Freerider Pro for example, but put it anywhere near the pedal pins and it will grab hold and not let go – we tested that across several different pedals with similar results. This surface-level grip is what has always separated Five Ten Stealth rubber from anything else, but Specialized has finally cracked the code and they’ve come up with something that matches or maybe even exceeds it. They also claim that it will last longer, but that is something we’ve not been able to verify for ourselves yet, as we’ve only got about 2 weeks of riding time in these so far. We also need to verify the performance in the mud, we’ve only tested in the dry as of yet.

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The rest of the shoe has also put in a good performance out on the trail. The 2FO Roost is comfortable and supportive, and little details like stretch-free laces that don’t gather up much trail debris make life easier. There is plenty of room around the toe box, those with wider feet will likely find these quite comfortable. This tester has long and narrow feet, which felt a tiny little bit unsupported at times, but not to the point of being detrimental to the overall performance. The shoe offers good levels of protection, even though the material used in the uppers is on the thin side and can leave you feeling a little bit under-gunned if you typically ride a more heavy-duty shoe. Think of this one as the perfect all-rounder, good for anything from trail to park, but short of the level of protection offered by an Impact Pro for example. Specialized didn’t share any details but they did tell us that their entire line of shoes will be reworked now, so chances are we’ll see different types of shoes with the same magic rubber appear down the line. Building more on this base would definitely be a good move!

What’s The Bottom Line?

After years of testing flat pedal shoes, we had pretty much come to terms with the idea that maybe Five Ten Stealth rubber would never have an equal. Well, the day has finally come when another company can make a legitimate claim to the throne of grip. Specialized’s third generation of SlipNot rubber delivers faultless grip and a very secure feeling under the foot, and the rest of the features on the new 2FO Roost shoe are equally impressive. We will have to come back to you with the verdict on longevity once we get more trail time in, but meanwhile, if you’re looking for the ultimate grip in a comfy shoe that won’t look out of place on or off the bike, you should most certainly give these a try.

More information at: www.specialized.com.

View key specs, compare shoes, and rate the 2FO Roost in the Vital MTB Product Guide.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 47 // Years Riding MTB: 15 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Video and Photos by Johan Hjord // Additional Video Footage by Tal Rozow

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